Hunter Biden defies House Republicans’ subpoena for closed-door testimony

Washington — Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, defied a subpoena from the GOP-led House Oversight Committee for a closed-door deposition set to take place Wednesday, appearing briefly outside the Capitol to reiterate that he would answer questions from lawmakers only in a public setting.

Hunter Biden’s decision not to comply with the subpoena paves the way for Republicans to pursue proceedings to hold him in contempt of Congress. The GOP leaders of the Oversight and Judiciary Committees quickly said they will initiate a contempt effort, although the timing remains unclear. 

The president’s son arrived outside the Senate to deliver a brief statement, and slammed GOP lawmakers for targeting him and his father in their nearly yearlong probe.

“I’m here today to make sure the House committee’s illegitimate investigations of my family do not proceed on distortions, manipulated evidence and lies, and I’m here today to acknowledge I have made mistakes in my life and wasted opportunities and privileges I was afforded,” Hunter Biden said. “For that, I am responsible. For that, I am accountable. And for that, I am making amends.”

Hunter Biden talks to reporters outside the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 13, 2023.
Hunter Biden talks to reporters outside the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 13, 2023.

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He said he would answer at a public hearing “any legitimate questions” from Oversight Committee chairman James Comer and members of the panel.

“Let me state as clearly as I can: my father was not financially involved in my business, not as a practicing lawyer, not as a board member of Burisma, not in my partnership with a Chinese private businessman, not in my investments at home nor abroad, and certainly not as an artist,” Hunter Biden said.

He acknowledged that he was “extremely irresponsible” with his finances while battling drug addiction, but said the notion that his struggles are grounds for an impeachment inquiry targeting his father is “beyond the absurd” and “shameless.”

“There is no evidence to support the allegations that my father was financially involved in my business, because it did not happen,” Hunter Biden said, accusing the Republican leaders of three committees leading the investigation into his business dealings of “distorting the facts.”

House Republicans’ demand for testimony

In a statement to reporters Tuesday afternoon, a GOP Oversight Committee spokesperson said that Comer and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan “will initiate contempt of Congress proceedings” if Hunter Biden did not appear for the deposition at 9:30 a.m.

Comer, of Kentucky, reiterated Wednesday that the committee issued a lawful subpoena to Hunter Biden and said lawmakers have “lots of questions” for him.

“He does not get to dictate the terms of this subpoena,” the Oversight chairman said.

Jordan added that a House vote set for later Wednesday to formalize the GOP-led impeachment inquiry into Mr. Biden will undercut his son’s argument against testifying at the deposition. The House’s approval of a resolution approving the inquiry could strengthen the Republicans’ position in court if there are legal challenges to their subpoenas. 

“We will not provide special treatment because his last name is Biden,” Jordan and Comer said in their joint statement announcing they will initiate contempt of Congress proceedings.

Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, told Comer last month that his client would appear if he could testify in public, and not in closed proceedings. Lowell has complained that the leaks from earlier congressional depositions connected with the committee’s investigation into Hunter Biden have distorted the testimony. 

Hunter Biden’s international business dealings have been under investigation for years by both Congress and the federal government. Republicans in Congress have been trying to show that Mr. Biden was enriched by his son’s and brother’s foreign business dealings and that he accepted bribes, but lawmakers have produced no evidence yet that the president benefited financially. 

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House Republicans noted that the procedure used in their investigation is the same set by other congressional probes, including that of the Jan. 6 House select committee and the first impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump. In those cases, depositions were taken first as a fact-finding exercise before any public testimony. Republicans said they are holding Hunter Biden to the same standard.

If House Republicans initiate contempt of Congress proceedings quickly, it may require the House to be in session part of next week to debate and consider such a resolution. Lawmakers are scheduled to leave Washington on Thursday for a holiday recess and aren’t set to return until Jan. 9.

Republicans began investigating Hunter Biden and other members of the president’s family after taking control of the House in January, though their probe ramped up after then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced in September that he would be launching a formal impeachment inquiry. House Speaker Mike Johnson, elected to take the gavel after McCarthy’s was ousted in October, has continued to support the probe into the business dealings of the president’s family members.

In addition to issuing a subpoena to Hunter Biden for his testimony at a deposition, Republicans made a similar demand to James Biden, the president’s brother. That subpoena, issued last month, ordered James Biden to participate in a deposition on Dec. 6, though the Oversight panel is still working to secure his testimony.

GOP investigators have also requested transcribed interviews from other members of Mr. Biden’s family and issued subpoenas to Hunter Biden’s former business associates.

The contempt proceedings come as Hunter Biden faces separate legal troubles in Delaware and California stemming from an investigation led by special counsel David Weiss. In September, he was charged in Delaware with three felony counts stemming from his purchase of a firearm in 2018, and last week was charged in California with nine counts of tax violations.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to the gun offenses and asked a federal court earlier this week to dismiss the charges.

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